You know the level-headed friend who keeps it real about the challenges of motherhood while somehow also taking the time to appreciate the beauty of each fleeting moment? The one who helps you keep everything in perspective and reminds you to take care of you? Writer/wordsmith and mama of two Ka’ala Byndon is our online version of that friend, filling our feed with daily inspiration, encouraging us to focus our lives around what matters most, and touching our souls with her words of wisdom. Below, she shares a spoken word piece that’ll feel like it was written for you, realistic self-care practices for postpartum mamas, and the motherhood mantras she has on heavy rotation.
Welcome, Ka’ala! Please tell us a little about yourself.
Aloha mai kākou! ‘O Ka’ala ko’u inoa. Hello, my name is Ka’ala. I have a mouthful of other names (because we’re a family of mixed cultures) but the one I’m most proud of is mama. I was born and raised on Maui (Native Hawaiian dad, German-American mom) but moved to Nebraska for college and ended up staying (for now). I met my husband, Andile, here and we started a family. We have two little girls—Mahina just turned 2 last month and Ayanda (Yaya) is 6 months old. It’s cliché but they really are our world. I’m a self-published author of a children’s book called How I Wear My Crown. It was written for my nieces and celebrates the afro and the various ways to style it. I also have a small book of poems as well as two guided journals on intentional living. If I’m not balancing two babes and a cartful of groceries, you just might see me scratching words down on my phone or in my journal. It’s how I practice self-care and self-reflection.
Tell us about your spoken word piece—where did you draw inspiration from?
Just like most of my writing, it’s inspired by what I’m needing or desiring at the moment. And at the time I wrote it, I realized just how little time I was actually giving to myself. I was craving some freedom to take care of me, yet still be present with the girls. And all moms know that balance is a line that is so damn hard to walk. We bend over backward (literally) all day (whether at home or at work) to take care of our babies, then what? We get a few moments in the shower after they go to bed? A few moments to cry out all the mom guilt and exhaustion? And maybe wash our hair if we find the strength in our arms? Might be a bit dramatic, but I know some moms can really relate. Many of us are NOT properly caring for ourselves. But we’re doing the best we can in this season.
Taking care of a newborn is round-the-clock all-consuming. How can one realistically find the time for self-care?
Realistically, it’s just not going to be the same as it used to. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Self-care might look a little different these days. But it’s still just as important (actually more). Instead of sleeping in, taking a long luxurious bath, or peacing out and heading for some solo retail therapy or a quiet pedicure/massage, self-care might look like taking 20 extra minutes in the morning to stretch your body, or practice grounding outside. Maybe it looks like enjoying the whole cup of coffee without reheating it because you woke up a few minutes earlier. Maybe it looks like reading a book before bed or listening to an audiobook during the drive to the grocery store. It might look like journaling during nap time or putting on your favorite show and giving the kids a little screen time while you’re at it (if you’re down with that). It can look like so many things—it just needs to bring you joy.
One of the biggest forms of self-care that we often forget about is asking for help. Asking for help does not make you weak. It does not mean you’re failing at what you do. It means you care about yourself and your mental health enough to take a little weight off and share it with someone you trust. Ask your partner or family member to watch the kids while you go to Target and walk the aisles. Ask for a babysitter so you can go get your nails done. Ask for takeout if it’s been a rough day and you are in no way prepared to make dinner. Ask someone to take over bedtime duty so you can take that long bubble bath you used to enjoy. Ask for the back rub. Ask for the remote. Ask for the hug. Ask for help! And take it when it’s offered!
I recently read something that mentioned basic hygiene shouldn’t be considered a “break” for mamas. (So showering doesn’t count?) What are some forms of self-care that are truly nourishing or restorative?
I read this recently as well and even shared it to my IG stories. But what I didn’t realize is that this idea can be harmful for the ones who really struggle mentally or even physically. For some folks it’s really hard just to take a shower. Or to brush their hair (me). And for some, being able to do that is a feat. And should be celebrated. But I definitely understand the point it’s trying to get across. A shower isn’t a reward for hard work. Getting a haircut shouldn’t be the extent of our “break” from our work as mothers. Because quite frankly, mothers never get breaks. Even when we are out doing whatever it is we do sans kids, we are still thinking of them, wondering if they are okay, if they are safe, if they are completely wrecking the house, etc. We are never fully care-free as moms. AND THIS IS IN NO WAY A COMPLAINT. It just goes to show the love and care we have embedded into our being when we become “mama.”
But to answer the question, some nourishing acts of self-care that I love are journaling, listening to music (instrumentals or lyrical depends on the mood), watching a favorite show, cooking a healthy meal, taking naps when my body needs it, meditating for a few minutes a day, dancing, and getting outside.
Self-care sometimes feels like a luxury, but can you speak to the true value in it?
I like imagery, so think of it like this: We have a pitcher of water. That pitcher needs to nourish everyone we care about (including ourselves). If I continue to pour that pitcher into everyone else’s lives but mine, I leave myself empty and parched. (And most likely bitter and b*#+^y.) But if I water myself first, I am able to pour not only from that pitcher, but from myself as well. Moral of the story: Practice radical self-care so you can love harder on everyone around you.
How can a mama be more present with baby when her to-do list is a mile long?
When you find the answer to that, please let me know! Honestly, this is something I really struggle with. It can look a certain way on social media, but I think all of us moms—to an extent—struggle with the balance of “doing all the things” and being present as a mom. Especially when our kids are in their early years and want so much of our attention. I am a huge advocate for grace, though. If you’re doing your best, then that is enough. And I think moms need to start being okay with that.
What motherhood mantra(s) do you have on heavy rotation?
These are some of my favorites and most necessary:
- You can do hard things. But grace for the messy days.
- You are enough for them. You are enough for you.
- You are capable of accomplishing your upcoming endeavors and worthy of rest from your current challenges.
- There will be uncertainty. There will also be joy.
- Take your time.
- I see you. I believe in you. These are the words that grow the trees.
- They still love you. They’ll love you tomorrow, too. (Especially during tantrums)
Motherhood mantras are a great way to affirm your work as a mama. Keep them on repeat and come up with new ones as seasons of motherhood change. Grace on grace, mamas. You are doing great.